• John Jantak

Ste. Anne’s committed to preserving historic farmhouse


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue is moving ahead with its plans to restore the Maison Michel Robillard after council, in a split decision, voted in favour of hiring an architectural firm to determine the final cost of renovating the structure.

The preservation of the Maison Michel Robillard could be one step closer to being realized after Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue city council adopted a resolution in a split decision at the Monday evening council meeting on June 8 to move ahead with plans to determine the actual cost of restoring the structure.

“This resolution is not about building it or renovating it,” said Mayor Paola Hawa. “What we adopted under division was the step where we go to find out what the real cost will be. We have an estimate which we want to confirm or negate. It’s the same process as every other single project that we do as every other city does.”

Renovation less costly

The mayor supports preserving the Maison Michel Robillard – also known as the Braerob farmhouse – because the renovation cost would be cheaper than building a new chalet, said Hawa. The farmhouse would also be the cornerstone to the entrance of the newly planned 17-hectare municipal nature park on Chemin Ste. Marie in the north sector of the city.

“The difference in renovating is that we get a $1 million subsidy from Fonds du patrimoine culturel québécois (FPCQ) and the Montreal agglomeration whereas if were build a new building from scratch we would have no access to any subsidies. When you take the subsidy into consideration, there’s a $400,000 difference between turning the Maison Michel-Robillard into an entrance chalet versus a new building,” said Hawa.

Preserving Ste. Anne’s heritage

The preservation of the farmhouse would also help to protect a very unique part of Ste. Anne’s heritage, said Hawa. “I think the building in itself is an important part of the history of Ste. Anne’s and the entire West Island. As a society, especially in North America, we have a tendency to think that history is just for Europe,” she said.

“Especially in Quebec being one of the first places to be inhabited by Europeans, we just can’t forget about our history. It’s an important part of who we are as a society. These were some of the richest agricultural lands on the Island of Montreal. A lot of the agricultural lands you still see in Ste. Anne’s are remnants from the history of the Braerob,” she added.

REM extension

Hawa also noted that the REM light rail line was extended to Ste. Anne because of the city’s commitment to the new municipal park. “The idea of a chalet entrance to the park was an essential component behind the protection of 17 hectares of green space in Ste. Anne and was the deciding factor behind the entire idea of bringing the REM terminal here because it would also bring people from all over the island to the park,” said Hawa.

The evaluation will be conducted by the architectural firm Luce Lafontaine Architectes. “The firm we hired is actually one of the most renowned and respected in all of Quebec. They do 60 to 70 per cent of all patrimonial buildings in Quebec,” said Hawa. “They are very well regarded and this is why we hired a firm that specializes in these types of projects. They already did their inspection and evaluation and we chose them for their expertise.”

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